ENGLISH SITE: leonelmoura.com

Texte en français


aLife Art Architecture Lab

Swarm Paintings
Non-human art

Colony cognitive maps (pheromonal fields) for 1000 iteration, on a homogenous image.
Chialvo & Millonas.
I have always searched outside the art world the intellectual stimulation needed to be an artist, as I belief that creativity is produce through the interaction between different experiences and knowledge’s. This personal attitude as been reinforced in a context where artistic practices tended to rely more and more in self-referential and circular systems, very dependent of the mercantile interests, and thus loosing excitement and novelty.
I was lucky to feel in that way, because from the side of science the ‘artistic’ components of artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial life (aLife) have become increasable interesting, giving birth to completely new fields of knowledge and new ideas regarding life, art and intelligence itself.
From this context were born several projects developed in collaboration with the artificial life scientist Vitorino Ramos and more recently my project of UnManned Art with Henrique Garcia Pereira.

In short our idea is to create an organism able to generate forms without any representational pre-commitment and with a minimum of esthetical intervention from our part. This project differs from others, namely those of algorithmic or evolutionary art, where purely random choices and/or an aesthetic fitness evaluation must be incorporated, with or without the requirement of pre-constraints. Such experiments are based on a kind of ideal form, determined directly by humans or developed by computers after learning human idiosyncrasies. It differs also from certain proposals of AI, which try to simulate representations, emotions or human sensitivity.
It is undeniable the interest of such experiments, but that is not the purpose of our project. We want to remove, as much as possible, the human factor. Particularly in what concerns aesthetic or ethical subjectivity, taste or style, leaving to the ‘artificial artist’ the task to define its own ‘art’. It is our intent to depreciate the quality of the 'oeuvre d’art', liberating the aesthetic experience from all the moralistic and individualistic mythologies. For that purpose we are working with ‘artificial ant systems’ and ‘swarm systems’.
This said, I must start by confessing some incredulity and frustration during the first year of work. Although we reached very quickly some fascinating results, it was difficult for me to perceive the utility of the exercise. As an artist, I asked often: 'yes it is nice, but what can I do with it?' Typically I was looking at artificial life as a new tool, capable of serving by means of its extraordinary combinatory performance my one specific objective. In fact I wanted those systems to perform tasks or solve problems. From that attitude and period I have accomplished some curious artistic and architectural projects, but not a new kind of art. Besides that the overwhelming images that appeared in the screen of the monitor, soon gave place to a feeling of inconsequence in practical terms. Because an artist is essentially a builder, of objects or situations, the virtual reality of the pixel universe appears as an insurmountable obstacle.
It didn’t seem possible to undertake any significant conceptual or esthetical rupture by means of flickering digital images, for very complex and elaborate that they would be. As we can already state by looking at exhibitions and art magazines, contemporary art very soon did integrate such images, in the old logic of fashion and formalism.
The computer, primordial soup of the artificial life, is very deceptive when it comes to output. In the monitor all the images, reduced to their condition of pixels, seem similar and equivalent. Over and over again I initiate the program, drop a set of ‘ants’ randomly in a delimited space (ambient) and witness the emergence of a variety of drawings, lines or clusters, mappings or 3d constructions, depending on the characteristics of the program or the specific parameters and grammar. The result was always exciting, and more exciting when increasing unexpected, that is, less controlled. But the monitor kept on returning this excitement to a kind of virtual dullness.
It was thus that after a sleepless night, I decided to break with the monitor and undertake a simple experiment. With the aid of a small CAD/CAM machine and a Japanese brush deepen in gold paint, I redirected the swarm to a white sheet of Fabriano paper. A painting emerged, formally similar to post-war abstract art, a children’s drawing or the experiments with the chimpanzee Congo. I decide to call it ‘Swarm Paintings’.

[Home] [page 1] [page 2] [page 3] [page 4]

Mc_2.gif (21693 bytes)
One swarm (3000 ants) is thrown to explore Kafka image for 6000 iterations (t). At t=400, the Kafka habitat is replaced by Red Ant image.
Evolution of swarm cognitive maps (pheromonal fields) is shown for several iterations.